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Government Technology News

British Spy Agency Searches For Real-Life 'Q' 79

Posted by Soulskill
from the grow-up-double-oh-seven dept.
suraj.sun writes with this quote from the Associated Press:"Britain's domestic spy agency — MI5 — is hunting for its very own 'Q,' of sorts. MI6's sister organization, which carries out surveillance on terror suspects inside Britain and gives security advice to the government, is searching for someone to lead its scientific work. Projects could include everything from developing counterterrorism technology to tackling a biological or chemical attack. 'Looking for a chief scientific adviser to lead and coordinate the scientific work of the security service so that the service continues to be supported by excellent science and technology advice,' MI5's Web site ad reads. MI5 has long had a roster of scientific staff tasked with developing high-tech gadgets, but an official said the service now wants a high-profile figure to lead pioneering work in technology and science. The adviser's work will focus chiefly on creating sophisticated new tools to help security service officers carry out surveillance and analysis work, said a government security official, who requested anonymity to discuss the work of MI5."
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British Spy Agency Searches For Real-Life 'Q'

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  • Q? (Score:5, Funny)

    by jrothwell97 (968062) <jonathan.notroswell@com> on Sunday April 19, 2009 @12:01PM (#27636973) Homepage Journal

    Well, I can think the requirements for entering the Continuum, including omnipotence, a flagrant disregard for all other races and a fondness for haunting starships would be rather difficult to find...

    oh, right.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mysidia (191772)

      In this case, I think they really only care about the omnipotence, it just makes the whole spying thing and investigative work a heck of a whole lot easier.

      However, the trouble is, they need a candidate with ominpotence who will submit to the bureaucracy and only use the omnipotence in the manner ordered.

      It can be really hard to find a being willing to follow all the government rules.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Jurily (900488)

      I read the tag as Tsartrek. Quite fitting.

    • Re:Q? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Workaphobia (931620) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @03:04PM (#27638277) Journal

      You know you're reading slashdot when a summary mentioning MI6 and Q needs a !startrek tag.

  • Intelligence operations are nothing like the movies.

    • Re:FYI (Score:5, Funny)

      by zebadee (551743) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @12:10PM (#27637037) Homepage
      But they are exactly like the TV shows (Spooks/MI-5)
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by legirons (809082)

        Peter Wright did a book about MI5's work ("spycatcher []" - you'll have trouble getting a copy in the UK) that seems quite informative...

        • by xaxa (988988)

          Peter Wright did a book about MI5's work ("spycatcher []" - you'll have trouble getting a copy in the UK) that seems quite informative...

          Why would someone in the UK have trouble getting a copy? You've linked to, and there are 4 new and 156 used available, with prices down to a penny (+postage). That seems pretty good for a book that's been out of print for 20 years.

      • Re:FYI (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Animats (122034) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @02:37PM (#27638009) Homepage

        But they are exactly like the TV shows (Spooks/MI-5)

        The woman who actually runs MI-5 watches the show. She has commented that the two big errors are the assumption that everything is eventually knowable and that five people can do it all.

    • by dave420 (699308)
      Neil Burnside [] would like to disagree with you. Season 1 [] if you are into that kind of thing.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe they'd be more successful if they were like the movies.

      More freethinking, rugged individualism.

      Less risk averse bureaucratic types that are more worried about covering their own arse.

      Less making political points, more action oriented.

      Less cracking down on their domestic citizens, and more overseas adventurism.

      Less hiring of blonde haired, blue eyed females with law degrees, more hiring of slightly dodgy individuals that can speak a number of exotic languages.

      It'd be great, but it'd piss of the governm

  • by MrSteveSD (801820) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @12:08PM (#27637023)
    ...look at your phone and email records? I remember a crazy time when only the Police could do that, and only then with a court order.
  • Q had the cool gadgets, but R would jump right in and give a hands on demonstration!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 19, 2009 @12:23PM (#27637123)

    The model for Q didn't do science or engineering per se. He just knew where to get anything. If you wanted to send an agent into Germany, everything about him had to be absolutely authentic. Q could find a German tailor in Manchester who would create an absolutely perfect garment for whatever purpose. A garbage man's uniform would be stitched differently from a general's uniform.

    You agent might be caught but it wouldn't be because a watch pocket was on the wrong side. Q was an absolute stickler for detail.

  • mon capitan (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Eil (82413)

    Q's general policy has always been, "don't call me, I'll call you." But he's probably still tormenting Picard and Janeway, so MI5 should probably talk to them if they really want to find him.

  • by Adilor (857925) <adilor18 @ y a> on Sunday April 19, 2009 @12:42PM (#27637225)
    Some of these are jokes, yeah, but it appears other people are genuinely confused. We're talking about the James Bond Q, not the Star Trek Q. RTFA.
  • by Peet42 (904274) <Peet42@Netscape. n e t> on Sunday April 19, 2009 @01:00PM (#27637345)

    Sir Clive Sinclair.

  • I hearby nominate Adam Savage!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by thomthom (832970)
      I'd think that they'd want something stealthy and not something that always end up with a big boom...
  • Tony Sale's Wikipedia page [] seems to omit the work that he did most of his life. But some aspect of his work during that time is briefly mentioned in the banned-in-Britain book Spycatcher [].
  • Can't they just wait for the new James Bond movie to come out every few years to get ideas? I mean hell, MI5 even contacted the producers for Thunderball asking how the rebreather worked, and if they could get one.
  • Steve Jobs (Score:4, Funny)

    by Civil_Disobedient (261825) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @01:58PM (#27637743)

    This is a job for Jobs.

    • Wait a minute....don't they already have Inspector Gadget? Or was he French?

    • by Xest (935314)

      Fuck no, he'd create a covert rifle that cost 5 times as much as it's worth, couldn't be reloaded because the magazine was sealed into the weapon, lacked a trigger because it would ruin the aesthetics and wouldn't work outside the UK due to region restrictions.

      But then, I suppose at least it would look cool, could be activated by making a gesture at someone and have some fancy effects when it did fire.

  • by auric_dude (610172) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @02:17PM (#27637893)
    MI5 (chief scientific adviser) job application [] MI6 (James Bond) job application [], note not the same organisation.
  • by earlymon (1116185) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @04:36PM (#27639115) Homepage Journal

    I've watched the movies and even a few episodes of the TV show. Here are the known advantages for being Q:

    1. Apparently unlimited R&D budget.
    2. No ES&H looking over your shoulder while minions shoot themselves and blow themselves up.
    3. You're free to just work things out without some PHB running about and micromanaging you.
    4. You get to leave your sub sandwich wherever it's convenient at the time and no one even thinks of touching it.
    5. You get to spend a great deal of time critiquing toys that explode.
    6. You get to know what tailors across Europe are up to - and combined with #1, above, implies a LOT.
    7. Main staff are assigned to check in with you before working - and they do. N.B., you do not write memos and status reports about what they'll find - people have to ask - once.
    8. Your day isn't filled just with minions shooting themselves and blowing themselves up - you get to talk to people, including staff, that experiences the outside world.
    9. Overall main staff is hip and intelligent.
    10. You can get exasperated with James Bond and talk to him like he's a child and instead of shooting you (remember - license to kill), and instead of politically backstabbing you within the organization, he likes you for it and makes jokes.

    • 1. Very few products survive field testing to provide useful data

      2. Minions, no matter how disposable, still require a surpising ammount of paperwork.

      3. Unlimited R&D budget limited to a list of "approved vendors"

      4. You're employers have a license to terminate you, and ensure your body is never found.

      5. Women choose men in tuxedos over men in lab coats every time.

    • Well, the main reason for #10 is probably because to Bond, Q is basically Santa Claus.
  • One of those magnetic watches that can unzip a cocktail dress at a distance.
  • Station IX (Score:5, Informative)

    by choco (36913) on Sunday April 19, 2009 @10:35PM (#27641353) Homepage

    If you go back to WW2, the UK had a research lab which produced many curious inventions worthy of "Q". It was part of the SOE and known as "Station IX". It was based in an old Mansion just South of Welwyn in Herts.

    You can now buy a catalogue of their weird and wonderful creations - which included such things as:

    Explosive Rats (designed to destroy boilers)

    Motor Bikes which folded into a small case and could be dropped by parachute. ("Welbike")

    Silenced Single shot guns ("Welrod")

    Explosive Pens.

    Land Mines disguised as faeces from a wide range of Animals. These had a double effect - not only could they knock out enemy vehicles, but they slowed progress and sapped morale by forcing the occupants of enemy vehicles to get out and probe carefully every last turd they came across.

  • Remember, MI6 have never had anyone killed, their chief said so at the Diana inquest in Paris. I see no reason to disbelieve this, other than the fact that the government swore blind that MI6 agents didn't assist in torturing people at Guantanamo, and then admitted that, well, they had actually.
  • ...this is why you should do well in school if you can - so when an opportunity like this comes along, they'll want you.
  • Hmmmm ... think they'd consider one of us colonial cousins?

    Maybe a fresh outside look, eh wot? But I might want to bring a sidekick. Perhaps someone Canadian, just to reassure our British cousins a bit?

    "I should be very much obliged if you would slip your revolver into your pocket. An Eley's No. 2 is an excellent argument with gentlemen who can twist steel pokers into knots. That and a toothbrush are, I think, all that we need."

  • MI5 were recently in the news for alleged complicity in the torture of detainees in Pakistan [].

    Before you jump at this glamorous top secret job, think about who you will be working for.

The goal of Computer Science is to build something that will last at least until we've finished building it.